USES.—The plant has much reputation in India in the treatment of skin diseases, and indeed its efficiency is great in the stubborn Tinea circinata tropica, known throughout the Orient as “dhobie-itch.” In this disease it is applied for several days to the affected part in the form of a paste composed of the bruised leaves, the juice of the leaves and lemon juice. The fresh root also may be employed.
The Hindoo physicians state that the root decoction in milk is aphrodisiac; the root is also regarded as an antidote for the bite of the “cobra da cabelho,” but its virtue is purely imaginary. Of late years the plant has been used in Europe under the name of “tong-pang-chong,” to treat chronic eczema.
Liborius made an analysis of the root in the laboratory of Dorpat, separating 13.51% ash and 1.87% rhinocanthin, as well as other ingredients. Rhinocanthin (C14H18O4) is supposed to be the active principle of the root. It is analogous to quinon and resembles in many particulars chrysophanic and frangulic acids. It forms a resinous, amorphous mass, cherry red, odorless and tasteless, slightly soluble in water, forming a mildly alkaline solution in alcohol. It does not yield glucose when boiled with dilute hydrochloric acid. Liborius believes that it exists only in the intercellular spaces of the “root bark.” BOTANICAL DESCRIPTION.—A shrub, about 4° high, stem ash-colored, no spines.
Leaves lanceolate, undulate, downy. Flowers white in spikes. Calyx gamosepalous, 5-toothed. Corolla long, filiform, limb 4-lobed, the 3 lower lobes ovate, the upper pointed. Stamens 2. Ovary free, 2 biovulate locules. Style simple. Stigma bifid. Seed vessel club-shaped, 4 seeds in the upper part.
HABITAT.—Common in the gardens of Manila.
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